HOLIDAYMAKERS heading to Italy this summer have been warned of an outbreak of a deadly mosquito-borne disease.
Health authorities have confirmed nearly 90 cases of West Nile virus in several European countries as of August 9, 2023.
Figures from the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) suggest most cases are coming from Italy – which has reported 56 infections and one death this year.
The weekly report found that cases of the virus in Europe nearly doubled between August 3 and 9 – from 48 to 89 – suggesting the virus is spreading quickly.
Greece follows behind Italy with 22 cases and two deaths, local health officials reported last week.
West Nile virus is a potentially debilitating or deadly disease that can cause neurological disorders such as encephalitis and meningitis in humans.
Both cause inflammation of the brain and can be fatal.
Romania has reported five cases, while France and Hungary have registered three each.
According to the ECDC, more than 1,300 locally acquired human cases of West Nile virus infection were recorded in 2022, including 104 deaths.
That was the highest reported number of locally acquired cases since the epidemic peaked in 2018 – when it topped 1,500.
Mosquitoes, responsible for spreading several other tropical diseases, have reached some European countries for the first time.
Scientists say climate change, which brings frequent heat waves and flooding, has created more favorable conditions for the animals.
An ECDC report found that the pathogens are now widespread in 26 European countries, causing diseases such as West Nile fever and dengue fever.
The small pests have now gained a foothold in popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France and Portugal.
According to the NHS, Brits traveling to high-risk destinations should avoid mosquito bites by using bug spray and bed nets.
What are the symptoms of West Nile Virus?
Most people with the virus have no symptoms.
However, if you do, there’s a good chance you’ll develop mild flu-like symptoms and a rash, and possibly feel sick.
The infection usually goes away on its own without treatment.
Signs of a severe infection can include flu-like symptoms and also:
- muscle weakness
- seizures (seizures)
Serious infections require hospital treatment.